Posted on | August 16, 2011 | 49 Comments
Last night I wrote a post at The American Spectator entitled, “Dear Governor Palin: Please Call Me,” an attempt to clear up a misunderstanding of an incident that transpired Friday while Sarah Palin was at the Iowa State Fair.
While the governor has not yet called, I have spoken to people familar with the situation who are aghast at how the Daily Caller’s Alex Pappas, Politico and the Spectator‘s Quin Hillyer have misinterpreted the incident. One of the people to whom I spoke was Michelle McCormick of Iowa for Palin, who was with the governor at the time she called Pappas to dispute a headline (which, it turns out, was from Fox Nation, not from the Daily Caller) suggesting that Palin had endorsed Mitt Romney.
Now, let’s get one thing clear up front: McCormick is among many Palin supporters who believe that she is going to announce a 2012 presidential campaign within a matter of weeks. I have gone on record as rejecting that belief as a delusion. However, there are enough people telling me not to rule out the possibility — and some of those are swearing up and down they definitely know she will run — that I’m beginning to question whether I’ve completely misread the tea leaves. So . . .
A headline appeared online suggesting that Palin had endorsed Romney, and Palin decided to personally intervene to correct the record. That much of the Palin-Pappas tale is true, and I think it may be highly suggestive that she is indeed seriously considering an entry into the 2012 field. What is false about the developing media version of the Palin-Pappas narrative, according to McCormick and others, is three things:
- Governor Palin did not personally dial up Pappas’s number. She asked around among her aides if anyone knew how to get in touch with Pappas. One member of her advance team, Jason Recher, had Pappas’s number, called him and then handed the phone to the governor.
- Governor Palin did not summon a Politico reporter to listen in on the call. Palin was in the middle of a gigantic crowd of people at the Iowa State Fair, and her half of the conversation may have been overheard by others. There was no way, amid the press of the throng, that anyone outside that swarm could have been summoned at all, and the idea that Palin would be doing favors for a Politico reporter is ridiculous.
- Governor Palin wasn’t screaming angrily at Pappas. Again, Palin was in the middle of a crowd, which was quite noisy, and if her voice was loud, it was because she was trying to make herself heard amid the hubub.
After the conversation was over, and Palin realized that the misleading headline wasn’t Pappas’s fault, she asked one of her aides to contact Pappas and apologize for the mistake. Pappas says that the aide did not actually apologize, but I have no idea what was said in their conversation, so I can’t speak to that. But Palin’s supporters are furious at Pappas for “whining” (note the quotation marks) about the incident, and incensed by Hillyer’s characterization of Palin’s behavior as that of a “difficult diva.”
Now the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin has jumped on the dogpile, accepting Hillyer’s characterization of the incident as gospel, and what is being lost amid all this unnecessary drama is the actual political news value: Sarah Palin is serious enough about a 2012 presidential bid that she evidently considered it an urgent matter to knock down any suggestion that she had endorsed another candidate.
UPDATE: Let me direct a word or two toward some of the people who are saying that it would be crazy for Palin to get into the 2012 field at this point, and impossible for her to win, if she did.
First, I’m inclined to agree, which was why I was willing to declare last night that anyone who still believes Palin will run is suffering from a True Believer delusion.
Second . . . eh, not so fast, buddy.
Dan Riehl is about the last person on earth I’d accuse of being a True Believer, and yet his own reading of tea leaves leads him to think that Palin is absolutely serious when she says she’s still considering a 2012 run. Knowing Dan like I know Dan, I consider that highly significant.
Furthermore, many people who are disparaging Palin’s chances are supporters of one or another of the current GOP candidates, and some of them are conspicuously aboard the Rick Perry bandwagon. But let me point you to a Tweet that Tony Lee of Human Events sent yesterday in which he suggests we may now learn how much of Perry’s victory over Kay Bailey Hutchison in last year’s GOP primary was due to Palin endorsing Perry. And then there’s some guy predicting that Perry’s campaign will “self-destruct” within a month.
For a couple of weeks now, I’ve been hearing from people who say that Perry is a lot weaker candidate than Perry’s supporters imagine. We will wait and see about that. There have also been people telling me that they expect the Bachmann campaign to “implode,” and we’ll wait and see about that, too.
But if Bachmann does implode, and/or the Perry machine proves to be less than the unstoppable conservative juggernaut it has been hyped up to be, then the GOP field could develop a vacuum of the kind that nature proverbially abhors. So it may be that Palin is preparing a contingency plan for a campaign just in case such a scenario develops.
If the mood strikes her and the opportunity seems right, she could announce her candidacy on short notice and then quickly mobilize such a contingency organization. The money from tens of thousands of small donors would come flooding in and at that point I, for one, would be unwilling to wager $20 against her chances of being the Republican nominee when all is said and done at Tampa next summer.
Should Sarah shock the world by running in 2012 and confound conventional wisdom by winning the nomination, there are many who contend that she could not possibly beat Obama in the general election. Yet those would be the same people who now say she won’t run at all, so why should we believe their forecasts then, after she will have already twice proven them wrong, first by deciding to run so late, and then by winning the nomination against their advice?
UPDATE II: Stacy Drake at Conservatives for Palin also communicated with Michelle McCormick to set the record straight. I am loath to blame my friend Quin Hillyer for this kerfuffle — he’s a Southern hothead like me, and perhaps too prone to quick judgments — while Alex Pappas is, after all, a recent University of Alabama graduate whose youth might excuse his unfortunate part in the drama. What I don’t understand is why other reporters aren’t seeing this as I do, namely as a tiny yet tangible clue that Palin is seriously considering a 2012 run.